New controls means Sistine Chapel won't need more restoration: Vatican

Fri Oct 30, 2015 2:52pm EDT
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By Philip Pullella and Hanna Rantala

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - The success of a new high-tech air purification, climate control and lighting system means the frescoes of the Sistine Chapel will likely not have to be restored again, a Vatican official said.

"In our opinion, the most interesting thing to come out of (recent) studies is that the Sistine Chapel does not need to be restored again," said Vittoria Cimino, head conservator at the Vatican Museums.

She was speaking at the publication on Thursday night of technical and artistic studies of the chapel a year after the installation of new lighting and air conditioning systems.

Dust brought in from outside, body sweat and carbon dioxide pose a major risk to the masterpieces, which are over 500 years old.

The frescoes, many by Michelangelo, include one of the most famous scenes in the history of art - the arm of a gentle, bearded God reaching out to give life to Adam.

Following a 14-year restoration that ended in 1994, when the number of visitors stood at about 1.5 million a year, experts sought new techniques to protect the delicate frescoes as the number hit six million.

"The results of the restoration work carried out 20 years ago are still outstanding. Therefore, our efforts need to focus on the preservation of the actual situation," she told Reuters.

The new air filtering and conditioning system moves air at a very slow speed so as not to damage the frescoes.   Continued...